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“No prophet in your own land, a heretic.”

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

These words are part of the lyrics to a song I wrote and performed with my rock band, Apollos. They are inspired by the words of Christ who said,

“ Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.”

So, what does this mean and why is this teaching so important? Let’s start with the word, “prophet”. The etymological meaning is that of someone who is an interpreter or expounder of a spiritual wisdom, an individual who offers a new vision of what a teaching means for a contemporary audience. Unfortunately, it has become associated in popular parlance as someone who is primarily a prognosticator or predictor of the future, albeit, usually a negative one. But this, like so many words in current usage (like the word, myth) is not critically correct or even really useful.

When the Buddha returned home to his own land he was initially rejected. My understanding of his response to this issue was to be resolute in his convictions and to see everyone, first and foremost, as his fellow wayfarers and members of the Sangha, the roles of society coming second to his notion of equality via his understanding of the omnipresent Buddha Nature. This appeal would be especially important to those who would be deemed of a lower caste or outcasts. But for him, this was the expression of the Oneness from his enlightenment experience that culminated under the Bodhi Tree, and one that would evolve throughout the rest of his life. An example of practicing this from my own life is that I try to see my own wife and son, firs, as my sister and brother in the Dharma, and then, in their role as beloved wife and son. This has never diminished my familial role but only enhanced it.

In Mindfulness counseling, I have found that if I have known someone personally before entering into a therapeutic relationship, it does not usually work. However, if it begins with a therapeutic relationship, it often blossoms into a spiritual friendship. Why is this? Well, another example would be the humorous phrase, “The definition of an expert is someone from another town.” Familiarity often breeds a subjectivity that does not allow one to experience objectivity. In the example of Christ, it was said that, “Nothing good comes from Nazareth.” In other words, we often can’t see those with whom we’ve established a prior conditioning as potentially offering a different sense of important relation. This type of prejudice is all too common and severely limits the joy of deeper fellowship.

In the end, I see this as a part of the practice of overcoming our inherent conditioning and moving into a deeper, larger and more expansive relationship with others. We often seek anonymous wisdom from those outside of our immediate circles but miss the intimacy that is available nearby. I do my best to honor my wife and son as my teachers too. Sharing with me their own True Nature and doing so in a way that is far more honest and real because of our closeness. While no one is ever perfect and we all make mistakes, the affirmation of those who know us best and in the manner of which I’ve been speaking, may actually offer the greatest witness and testimony to our personal character and purpose. _/\_

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